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Author Conversation: Sandra Allen in conversation with Jessica Hopper

Sandra Allen did not know her uncle Bob very well. As a child, she had been told he was "crazy," that he had spent time in mental hospitals while growing up in Berkeley in the 60s and 70s. Then in 2009 Bob mailed Sandra his autobiography--60 single-spaced pages of all-caps, error-riddled sentences over sixty, single-spaced pages. The manuscript proclaimed to be a "true story" about being "labeled a psychotic paranoid schizophrenic," and arrived with a plea to help him get his story out to the world. In A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise, Allen translates her uncle's autobiography, creating a gripping coming-of-age story while sticking faithfully to the facts as he shared them. Allen contextualizes her uncle’s story by exploring her family history, the explosive time and place of her uncle's formative years, as well as the current and historical state of mental healthcare in America. The result is a heartbreaking and sometimes hilarious portrait of a young man striving for stability in his life and his mind.

Sandra Allen grew up in Muir Beach, California. She attended Brown University and received an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Iowa. A former BuzzFeed editor, she lives in New York. A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise: A True Story about Schizophrenia is her first book.

Jessica Hopper is a Chicago-based music journalist and author.

Event date: 
Thursday, April 5, 2018 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
Women & Children First
5233 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60640